The Dow Jones approached an all-time high for the third time in two weeks Tuesday as the stock index finished the session at 4,118.7, a mere 179 points from the all-time high set on October 12th, 2007. On February 1st, the Dow finished the trading day at 14,110; and then reached 14,111 during the trading day last Friday. Like the Dow, the S&P 500 finished at a fresh five-year high Tuesday and is just 57 points below its highest level ever, also reached in October 2007. In just the first five weeks of 2013, the Dow and S&P 500 have gained close to 7 percent, while the Nasdaq is sitting on a rise just shy of 6 percent.
On October 19th, 1987, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 500 points, marking the single worst one day slide in the blue-chip index's history. On the 25th anniversary of that woeful day known ever since as Black Monday, the Dow slipped another 200 points. Friday's slide was only about 1.5 percent, compared to the 22 percent decline on Black Monday, but was still a painful reminder for equities traders that their portfolios can be slashed in value in a single day. Friday's losses, much like those from earlier this week, were fueled by a series of disappointing corporate earnings, led by weak economy safe haven McDonalds and powerhouse conglomerate General Electric.
US stocks rose sharply on Wednesday, led by the tech sector, as investors received a string of mostly positive corporate earnings reports and testimony delivered to Congress from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. While Bernanke's outlook on the economy was slightly downbeat, what investors took from it was that the likelihood of a third round of quantitative easing seems even more likely.
Stellar earnings from JP Morgan Chase drove the first rally of the week on Friday as the Dow posted its biggest gain since late June. All three major US indexes erased the week's declines on the day. JP Morgan's per share earnings of $1.21 smashed Wall Street expectations of 70 cents a share in earnings, overshadowing the bank's revelation that the massive trading loss first announced as $2 billion in May turned into $5.8 billion. Another factor in Friday's rally, economists noted, is that China's second-quarter growth rate decelerated sharply, but not as sharply as some had feared.
US stocks posted substantial losses on Friday, giving back all of their gains from earlier in the week, as investors reacted to a hugely disappointing reading on the US labor market. Early in Friday's session, the Labor Dept. reported that the economy gained just 80,000 jobs in June, well below economists expectations and a warning sign for the economy as a whole. In the holiday-shortened trading week, stock fell slightly on Monday and made gains on Tuesday and Thursday before giving them back on Friday.
US stocks were mixed Wednesday as all three indexes slumped late in the session after the Federal Reserve's decision to expand Operation Twist was poorly received by investors, who had hoped for a third round of quantitative easing, or QE3. Operation Twist, in which the Treasury swaps short-term notes on its balance sheet for longer-term bonds, was scheduled to expire June 30th, but will now continue through the end of the year. Investors had been hoping for a third round of Treasury purchases designed to stimulate borrowing by lowering interest rates.
US stocks posted encouraging gains on Friday as investors held out hope for the crucial elections being held in Greece this weekend and a possible third round of quantitative easing here in the US when the Fed meets next Tuesday. All three major indexes posted solid gains, both on Friday and for the week. It was also the second week in a row in which all three posted gains, with the Dow gaining 1.7 percent for the week, the S&P 500 rising 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq surging 0.5 percent.
US stocks posted solid gains on Thursday, in a reversal of Wednesday's performance, as investors are keeping a cautious eye turned toward Greece, where critical elections are being held this weekend that could potentially unravel the eurozone economy and thrust the world back into recession. Thursday's gains came despite the uncertainty in Greece, and despite a pair of disappointing US economic reports which, ironically, might have spurred the gains as stockholders saw the weak data as further incentive for the Fed to launch a third round of quantitative easing.
US stocks posted moderate losses Wednesday as all three major indexes fell sharply in the last two hours of the trading day to finish lower after a see-saw session. Investor concern continues to be mostly focused on Europe as the region's ongoing debt crisis overshadowed a couple of mixed economic data in the US. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales fell the last two months and the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that demand for home loans surged 13 percent in May.
US stocks bounced back Tuesday, with all three major indexes gaining well over 1 percent, after all three slipped more than 1 percent in Monday's session. Concerns persist about the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe, however, as investors are worried that Spain's request for $125 billion in bailout funds for its banks may have come too late. Matters were made even worse on Tuesday by a decision from Fitch Ratings Service to downgrade 18 Spanish banks.
Elsewhere in Europe, Cypress requested a bailout, but the impact on markets was minimal because its economy counts for less than 0.3 percent of the overall eurozone economy. Perhaps more alarming were comments from a handful of European leaders suggesting Italy will soon need a bailout of its own. With those concerns still present, analysts believed Tuesday's gain was just a bounce-back rally from an excessive sell-off on Monday.